In the upcoming Mayoral election, safety on the streets of Harrisburg will be a pressing issue. Some residents of Midtown Harrisburg are making sure it will be a top concern.
The "Friends of Midtown" citizen safety committee believe their streets are becoming safer. But they don't believe that everyone, especially people outside Midtown, feel that way.
Ryan Stark, with the group, says he the group is working with police to change that. "We have a very high per capita crime rate in the city of Harrisburg. Midtown has its own fair share of criminal activity as well. So the perception isn't really that great right now. We need to change that."
The neighborhood watch includes at least 25 midtown residents. It's been ongoing for the past two years.
"We walk the streets, we look for issues like street lights, debris, things like that and of course we're looking for criminal activity." Stark explained. "If we see more people out on the streets, I think people are less likely to engage in criminal activity, think that they're being watched."
The group met Monday night, inside a bar called "Stage on Herr" owned by John Traynor. Traynor shares the group's same views and intentions. "When we came into Midtown, in order to make it safe there are a number of things that business owners should take responsibility for. And that's the safety of their customers coming in."
To promote his spot as a safe place to hang out in Midtown, Traynor had to make some investments like good lighting and cameras all over the property. These are investments Traynor feels every business should consider earlier.
He calls himself a Harrisburg transplant. He's originally from New York and when he first came to Midtown, he was held up at gun point right outside where his business is now. "It didn't deter me from further investment in the City."
Instead of skipping town, Traynor kept his faith in Midtown becoming safer. After all, he'd seen a lot worse in New York City. "I think with the influx of more people, that actually cuts down on crime. Because the more people that come in to Midtown or Downtown from outside of Harrisburg, there's safety in numbers."
The Citizen Safety Committee is going to make a push to engage Mayoral candidates on Harrisburg's street safety issue before, the May primary.